Photo Credit: Simon Wijers

Cyborg Definition

A cyborg (short for “cybernetic organism”) is a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts. The term was coined in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan S. Kline.

The term cyborg is not the same thing as bionic, biorobot or android; it applies to an organism that has restored function or enhanced abilities due to the integration of some artificial component or technology that relies on some sort of feedback. While cyborgs are commonly thought of as mammals, including humans, they might also conceivably be any kind of organism. It is hypothesized that cyborg technology will form a part of postbiological evolution, in the form of transhumanism – where people are artificially enhanced beyond their original biological characteristics.

D. S. Halacy’s Cyborg: Evolution of the Superman in 1965 featured an introduction which spoke of a “new frontier” that was “not merely space, but more profoundly the relationship between ‘inner space’ to ‘outer space’ – a bridge…between mind and matter.” In popular culture, some cyborgs may be represented as visibly mechanical (e.g., the Cybermen in the Doctor Who franchise or The Borg from Star Trek or Darth Vader from Star Wars); as almost indistinguishable from humans (e.g., the “Human” Cylons from the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica etc.) The 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man featured one of the most famous fictional cyborgs, referred to as a bionic man; the series was based upon a novel by Martin Caidin titled Cyborg. Cyborgs in fiction often play up a human contempt for over-dependence on technology, particularly when used for war, and when used in ways that seem to threaten free will. Cyborgs are also often portrayed with physical or mental abilities far exceeding a human counterpart (military forms may have inbuilt weapons, among other things).

Photo Credit: Simon Wijers

Photo Credit: Simon Wijers


According to some definitions of the term, the physical attachments humanity has with even the most basic technologies have already made them cyborgs. In a typical example, a human with an artificial cardiac pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator would be considered a cyborg, since these devices measure voltage potentials in the body, perform signal processing, and can deliver electrical stimuli, using this synthetic feedback mechanism to keep that person alive. Implants, especially cochlear implants, that combine mechanical modification with any kind of feedback response are also cyborg enhancements. Some theorists cite such modifications as contact lenses, hearing aids, or intraocular lenses as examples of fitting humans with technology to enhance their biological capabilities. As cyborgs currently are on the rise some theorists argue there is a need to develop new definitions of aging and for instance a bio-techno-social definition of aging has been suggested.

The term is also used to address human-technology mixtures in the abstract. This includes not only commonly used pieces of technology such as phones, computers, the Internet, etc. but also artifacts that may not popularly be considered technology; for example, pen and paper, and speech and language. When augmented with these technologies and connected in communication with people in other times and places, a person becomes capable of much more than they were before. This is like a computer, which gains power by using Internet protocols to connect with other computers. Cybernetic technologies include highways, pipes, electrical wiring, buildings, electrical plants, libraries, and other infrastructure that we hardly notice, but which are critical parts of the cybernetics that we work within.

Bruce Sterling in his universe of Shaper/Mechanist suggested an idea of alternative cyborg called Lobster, which is made not by using internal implants, but by using an external shell (e.g. a Powered Exoskeleton). Unlike human cyborgs that appear human externally while being synthetic internally (e.g. the Bishop type in the Alien franchise), Lobster looks inhuman externally but contains a human internally (e.g. Elysium, RoboCop). The computer game Deus Ex: Invisible Warprominently featured cyborgs called Omar, where “Omar” is a Russian translation of the word “Lobster” (since the Omar are of Russian origin in the game).

via Cyborg – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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